THE Lighthouse in Woking High Street has revealed that HRH The Countess of Wessex has become the charity’s patron.

The announcement was made during a royal visit last week, as Sophie – accompanied by the Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey, Michael More-Molyneux – formally presented the charity with the Queen’s Award for Volunteer Service.

The award recognises outstanding work by local volunteer groups to benefit their communities, and is the highest honour that can be given to a local voluntary group in the UK.

At the presentation event, Sophie spoke with many of the charity’s dedicated teams, met Ukrainian refugees who are supported there, and even took the opportunity to join the volunteer staff behind the counter of the charity’s social enterprise coffeehouse, serving customers.

“Her Royal Highness is a passionate advocate for those disadvantaged by circumstance, disability or inequality, and will be an enormously valued champion in her new role as our charity’s patron,” said The Lighthouse co-founder Rebecca Jespersen. “We are incredibly grateful for the Countess’s involvement and look forward to working more closely together.”

The Countess has volunteered at The Lighthouse several times over recent years, working alongside other volunteers to make a difference in the lives of others. The charity has around 300 volunteers, working together to tackle deprivation and isolation.

“Our projects at The Lighthouse Woking are incredibly varied,” said Rebecca. “The common theme is that we want to encourage, empower, and equip people. To see lives transformed through kindness, belief, and hope.”

Services include the Woking Foodbank and the Jigsaw baby bank, as well as a clothing bank, debt advice, cooking classes, creative workshops, and social enterprise coffeehouse The Cosy.

“We are honoured and thrilled that Her Royal Highness has become patron to The Lighthouse,” added chairman of trustees, Peter Keynes. “This recognition and support affirms the charity’s growing place as a vital source of help and hope, particularly as we look to the economic challenges ahead when the need for our services will only increase.”